THE CASE FOR CHEMICAL EXPORT CONTROLS

by Charles B. Rangel
Washington, DC, United States
June 1973
4 pages
Type: Report
Coverage in Africa: Angola, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, South Africa
Coverage outside Africa: United States, Portugal
Language: English
Contents: Use of U.S. Herbicides by Portugal and the Republic of South Africa • U.S. Sale of Herbicides • Questions of Law • Chemicals to South America? • Chemicals Controlled: At Home • Legislation Before Congress • The report says one of the profoundly disturbing and dangerous legacies of American involvement in the Indochina War may be the advent of the age of chemical warfare; for eight years, until 1970, the United States employed the now - infamous "Agent Orange," a teratogenic (fetus-damaging) herbicide in Southeast Asia. The report says experts estimate that this chemical spraying caused the destruction of enough food to feed approximately 600,000 persons for a year. The report says besides inflicting immediate damage upon the land, crops and people of Indochina, Agent Orange may very well have caused genetic damage to the Vietnamese people for generations to come. The report says the American chemical program was terminated in December, 1970 after studies by the National Cancer Institute showed that the administration of herbicide to mice produced abnormal fetuses; tragically, however, the damage had already been done; further, the Vietnamese have learned quickly and thoroughly the American way of war. The report says it has recently come to my attention that the excessive amount of chemical herbicides that the United States government and private business sell to Portugal and South Africa is being used to continue and intensify the colonial warfare in the Portuguese colonies of Angola and Mozambique. The report says it appears that Portuguese and South African airplanes are perpetrating a massive spraying of food crops, particularly cassava, to stifle support for the liberation movement that is rapidly growing among farmers and peasants in Angola and Mozambique. The report says on August 23, 1972, the Times of Zambia reported that approximately 1,300 Angolans had fled across the border into Zambia seeking food after the poisonous destruction of their crops. The report says African-interest groups such as the Washington Office on Africa and the American Committee on Africa have sought to document and publicize this horrid affair; in their November, 1972 newsletter, the Washington group reported American involvement in the supplying of these chemicals for use in the African war. The report says I am not only incensed about U.S. involvement in this African war on moral and ethical grounds, but it is also clear to me that our chemical sales violate the precepts of international law. The report says though the herbicides-in-question were shortsightedly removed from the munitions list three years ago, the 2,4,5-T sales are clearly transgressing the 1961 embargo of military material to Portugal and South Africa established under the Kennedy Administration. The report says we are also violating the spirit and intent of the embargo created by the Security Council of the United Nations on August 7, 1973. The report says the past fifty years, immediately following World War I, have seen a proliferation of protocols and resolutions adopted condemning the involvement, in any form, of nations in chemical aggressions; included among these are the Washington Conference Resolutions of 1922 and the Geneva Protocol of 1925; the United States, by supplying the weapons of war to racist nations such as Portugal and South Africa, is unquestionably violating the meaning and intent of these and other declarations. The report says I have introduced two pieces of legislation in the House of Representatives designed to halt the exportation of poisonous chemicals; "The Herbicide Export Control Act of 1973 '' will prohibit the exportation of 2,4,5-T herbicide; "The Chemical Warfare Prevention Act of 1973" will immediately ban the sale of herbicides to Portugal and the Republic of South Africa. The report says obviously, the chemicals that are being exported are no more than a drop in the enormously large bucket of American trade and foreign commerce; but to the citizens of Angola and Mozambique, these chemicals are the fodder for the brutal aggression being waged against them; to the concerned and caring members of the world community, these exports stain the good name and reputation of the United States. The report includes excerpts from articles in The New York Times and the Daily News. The report discusses Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, The New York Times, Harvard biochemists, shrimp, South Vietnam, the Angolan liberation movement, the Washington Office on Africa (WOA), the American Committee on Africa (ACOA), arms, ammunition, military vehicles, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), United Nations Resolution 2603A (XXIV), chemical warfare, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the Brazilian government.
Collection: Brenda Randolph Africa archive, Michigan State University Libraries Special Collections